Friday, June 06, 2008

care and caritas and quotidian moments

We will be busy this weekend. This afternoon is our homeschool group meeting, and tomorrow one son has football camp, my daughter has tests, and various other things are going on. In general I won't have much time for blogging. So here's a bit of an odds and ends post.

Over here at Schola et Studium I have been putting up bits and pieces of planning for my 7th grader next year. When I have that in hand, I'm going to start pondering my plans for my two first graders. That will be going on for the next month or so, unless life intervenes. So if you're interested in the homeschool nuts and bolts of a classical/CM-y/unschooly synthesis, that is where they generally are.

They look much more classical than anything else, right now. When I'm planning, I usually start with the "tool" subjects -- math, Latin, grammar --and move out towards the more CMy things. But the underpinnings remain unschooly. You will have to take my word for that. I wrote a bit more about that here in Time to Breathe. Maybe sometime I will blog more about it.
Over here at House and Hold, I finished my household journey. I said that I would reflect on it, and Susan L of High Desert Home paid me the compliment of following up on that, asking:

I would *love* to read what you've learned from this. I've actually gotten little thoughts and insights out of your whole process already. More pointed commentary on what you've learned would be welcome!
I have been thinking about this! One thing I realized last night, but I don't know if this is something peculiar to me alone, so I am curious if anyone else has experienced it:

My hands do not seem to be connected to my brain.

What's with that? To be more specific, when I am working with my hands -- cleaning, cooking, playing the guitar, even playing with a child -- my verbal-linguistic system doesn't seem to engage at all with my "hands-on" brain. My hands are learning, but my head can't wrap itself around the knowledge.

I learned a lot from my household journey, but when I tried to put it into words, I felt like someone with a processing disorder. There were no words that came to mind -- what came to mind were memories of soft light shining off a polished tile counter, of golden wood, of my interaction with disorder and clutter to bring it to order and clarity, even of the comradeship of the cyber-friends who made encouraging comments about my progress. These memories are faint and intuitively linked rather than verbally processed, like the way you remember things from when you were a very small child.

I guess the overall intuition was that of care, etymology as follows:

O.E. caru, cearu "sorrow, anxiety, grief," also "serious mental attention," from P.Gmc. *karo, from PIE base *gar- "cry out, scream." Sense of "charge, oversight, protection" is c.1400. The verb is O.E. carian, cearian "to feel concern or interest," from P.Gmc. *karojanan.
In addition to this the root would be from Latin "caritas" -- love -- I imagine. I am remembering that Kathleen Norris said something about "acedia" -- indifference -- being opposed to "care".... that there is an element in "caritas" of "serious mental attention" and also of concern, interest. The mingling is so subtle that I can't really say it any better than that right now, but perhaps you can read between the lines.

"Care" is something that happens with what you do, not just what you are thinking. Probably obvious to everyone, and obvious to me intellectually, but I brought something into my heart and hands with my household journey that helped me to understand it in a different way. I'm having trouble helping my hands and head share their understanding though, so that's where I am now.

I have to say that is one reason I liked Kathleen Norris's "Quotidian Mysteries" so much, and also enjoy Susan's blog and some others like Regina's and Kim's and Anna's and Elizabeth's -- because they can show and tell about things that I basically have no mental linguistic framework for.

I wonder if this is temperament, or environmental influence. I spent many years in school and they were extremely stressful. I actually am physiologically quite aware -- almost hyper-aware -- but spend a huge amount of energy simply filtering. Whenever I try to be more "mindful" I find it exhausting. That doesn't mean I'm giving up, but it is something that I am trying to figure out how to mediate so I can live a more integrated life.

When I'm reading a book, or writing, or thinking something through, I'm in control of the input. I think my verbal-linguistic brain likes to be in charge of things and let me process internally - -- here is my personality profile in case you are wondering WHAT I am talking about.

But those intuitional things that come from the hands and heart -- they are difficult for me to bring up to my conscious awareness-level. Anyone else have the least idea what I'm trying to say?


Laura A said...

Do you mean that, in some sense, you have a hard time concentrating on what you're doing? Not becoming abstracted? Does your mind have a hard time not racing ahead? Mine does. But I consider it largely the result of analyzing too much (I was also very schooly), and so I try to do hands on work for the express purpose of calming down. Perhaps as you do more such projects, the sides will come together more. I've also painted for years, and that helps to unite the sides, but some kinds of painting are very conceptual and floaty as well. Maybe you're a good candidate for your own IHP program, where you go back and rediscover poetic knowledge! (That is, if I properly understand what you're talking about.)

My Myers-Briggs profiles is almost identical to yours, by the way, right down to the almost even T and F split. I feel like my blog tends to veer off into a totally verbal/intellectual realm if I don't watch it, so I purposely try to pull it back into daily reality every few days. You've solved that problem nicely by having multiple blogs!

Willa said...

and so I try to do hands on work for the express purpose of calming down

Ah, that makes sense. I hadn't thought about it that way.

When I was at the hospital with Aidan for a month or more at a time, I did calligraphy and knotting & beadwork while he was asleep. It did really help with the stress, since in that case I could not afford to think very much. Interesting.

Laura A said...

I received Quotidian Mysteries yesterday and began reading it this morning. It seems very rich in the type of connections you are talking about. Catholicism does generally to me, but I am looking in from the outside.

And for what it's worth, I polished my nails the whole morning of my wedding. It wasn't until later when I heard my mom call it "nervous polishing" that I realized that's partly what it was. At the time I was thinking of how I used to get squeaky clean for piano recitals as a child. It seemed an appropriate ritual for the occasion, a traditional way (in my family) of paying attention and preparing to sharpen focus, without flying too far out into the very unknown future. I can see how working with your hands would be particularly helpful while sitting in the hospital with a very sick child.

Anyhow, I just wanted to add that I admire your putting these thoughts out as questions on your blog, before you figured out the connections. I may not rightly understand what you're talking about, but the feeling of reading this and that and trying to connect it, both with other reading and with real life, is familiar. I'd be a little more hesitant to put out the fragments on my own blog, for fear I'd get blank stares of incomprehension, which I do sometimes in real life.

But I just realized that I'm putting all sorts of confused thoughts in your comment box. Eek!

Chari said...

I kind of get you. :)

Susan L said...

All I know, Willa, is that whatever is happening in your brain is a very good thing, and we wouldn't want it to change! :-) It did make me smile to read this.

I always benefit from whatever you share. And a lot more comes through, even of your quotidian contemplations, than you might realize.

Susan L :-)